The 14th​ International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases (or ADPD meeting) was held in Lisbon, Portugal in March 2019. The five day event was attended by over 4000 researchers, who were able to watch lecture presentations in any of 8 different auditoriums or stroll among hundreds of research posters. It was a smorgasbord of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's research.

Of particular interest was the presentation of the results of the Phase II clinical trial results of Ambroxol in Parkinson's. Ambroxol is a respiratory medication that has been found to have beneficial properties in models of Parkinson's. The research led to The Cure Parkinson's Trust funded Linked Clinical trials study of Ambroxol in people with Parkinson's. Results are very encouraging, with the treatment being very well tolerated, and a larger study is now being proposed.

Another interesting presentation was the safety data from the ongoing Herantis Pharma Phase I clinical trial of CDNF in people with Parkinson's. CDNF (or Cerebral Dopamine Neurotrophic Factor) is a protein which is naturally produced in the brain to support dopamine producing neurons. This study is using the same delivery system that was used in the CPT supported Bristol GDNF clinical trial, and the initial safety data looks very good. The researchers conducting the study are hoping to have the efficacy data from this study next year.

'Biomarkers' was a very strong theme at the ADPD meeting and an amazing amount of biomarker-related data was presented. Pharmaceutical company Roche presented their smart phone biomarker data, which provides very rich data for assessing Parkinson's progression. The company is now using this method of monitoring Parkinson's in their ongoing Pasadena Phase II clinical trial of immunotherapy for Parkinson's. There was also data being presented from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (or PPMI) which is sponsored by the Michael J Fox foundation. In addition, an overview of the next step in the PPMI project or the "Path to Prevention" was presented. This new project will focus on establishing biomarkers for very early stage (or prodromal) Parkinson's. 

One aspect of Parkinson's that was missing at the meeting was that of the 'patient voice' with very few members of the patient community involved. It would be interesting for the organisers to consider providing sessions at future conferences for patient involvement. Beyond that one suggestion, it was an amazing meeting, with an incredible amount of data on display. Researchers should be returning to their respective institutes exhausted by the marathon effort of the 5 day conference, but excited and encouraged by all of the data and ideas that they had been exposed to.

Dr Simon Stott, Deputy Director Research - The Cure Parkinson's Trust

Find out more:

The CDNF Trial

The CPT funded Bristol GDNF Trial

Roche Smart Phone Biomarker Data

PPI - sponsored by Michael J Fox